First work­outs un­der­way for MLB pitch­ers and catch­ers


Even for an ac­com­plished vet­eran like Justin Ver­lan­der, the start of spring train­ing can be spe­cial.

“I usu­ally sleep pretty well. I woke up early to­day,” the Detroit ace said Tues­day. “On one hand, you want to ap­pre­ci­ate ev­ery­thing as much as you can. It’s not such a whirl­wind any­more — you kind of know what to ex­pect. But in the same as­pect, ev­ery day is pretty much the same thing I’ve done for 12 years, so it also starts go­ing faster.”

Ver­lan­der’s Tigers were among 15 teams with their first sched­uled work­outs for pitch­ers and catch­ers Tues­day. As ma­jor lea­guers took the field in Florida and Ari­zona, that fa­mil­iar sound of balls pop­ping into mitts served as a re­minder that in base­ball at least, win­ter is fi­nally over.

While Ver­lan­der and the Tigers went through their rou­tine at their newly ren­o­vated fa­cil­ity in Lake­land, the Bos­ton Red Sox were about 115 miles to the south, hold­ing their first work­out of the post-Papi era. It’s Bos­ton’s first sea­son with­out David Or­tiz since the Red Sox signed him in Jan­uary 2003, but Big Papi’s re­tire­ment may not be too big a blow to a team that added star left-han­der Chris Sale.

Over in Ari­zona, the Cleve­land In­di­ans be­gan pre­par­ing to de­fend their Amer­i­can League ti­tle. Cleve­land won the AL Cen­tral by eight games last year and made it to the World Se­ries be­fore los­ing to the Chicago Cubs in seven games.

“This time of year, ev­ery­one is at glass half full,” In­di­ans man­ager Terry Fran­cona said. “We have good rea­son to be.”

Hopes are al­ways high at the start of spring train­ing, but oc­ca­sion­ally there’s some in­jury news on the first day. Baltimore man­ager Buck Showal­ter said right-han­der Chris Till­man had a platelet-rich plasma in­jec­tion on his right shoul­der and won’t start the sea­son un­til April 7 at the ear­li­est.

The Kansas City Roy­als said left-han­der Brian Flynn broke a rib and had three mi­nor ver­te­brae frac­tures in a bizarre off­sea­son in­jury. Flynn is ex­pected to miss two months af­ter fall­ing through a barn roof at his Ok­la­homa res­i­dence.

The Roy­als and Mi­ami Mar­lins be­gin this sea­son with heavy hearts fol­low­ing the deaths of pitch­ers Yor­dano Ven­tura last month and Jose Fer­nan­dez in Septem­ber, and now the Ari­zona Di­a­mond­backs are deal­ing with a se­ri­ous health con­cern. Their bench coach, for­mer Min­nesota Twins man­ager Ron Gar­den­hire, has prostate cancer and is set to have surgery. He said doc­tors be­lieve they caught the cancer early.


Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Ver­lan­der, left fore­ground, warms up dur­ing a spring train­ing work­out in Lake­land, Fla., Tues­day.

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